Unequal treatment of users – Maximizing losses

This first of two articles looks at one side of the equation when it comes to how specific users are treated by traditional networks, maximizing user losses. Even before users were quickly migrating to online in early 2020 there have long been talks of limiting this largely unethical practice in regulated networks, detailed in a series of articles featured in The Guardian in late 2019. But there has still been little meaningful action so far, with networks seemingly always staying one step ahead.

The practice generally involves VIP programs, which it should be noted aren’t inherently unethical. The networks’ structuring of these can be in some instances though, and having VIP managers who regularly push their largest losing users is certainly not ethical. Users are treated as merely a kind of resource, with databases of user information and activity being highly valued by the traditional gambling industry.

The structuring of VIP programs is often quite telling, whether or not it is based on net losses or on overall activity. Anything based on net losses should be an instant red flag. Rewarding overall activity on the other hand, is most often a good thing.

Regulated networks are failing their users by continuing to engage in such clearly unethical practices. They’re often among the worst offenders in this area, partly owing to large budgets and employees incentivized to create ever-higher loss targets. Also partly since there are greater demands on unregulated networks to offer high enough quality and/or availability for the user to make the switch, and not to draw such public attention with these kinds of tactics.

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